Friday, September 6, 2013

Shortstack Reviews

The reviews are coming in for Shortstack, nine so far on Amazon, five 5* and four 4*.

Four on Goodreads: two 5*, one 4*, and one 3* stars. With a two and ace, I'll have a straight.

I'll post the ones that are not redundant from the two platforms. They are verbatim except for removal of identifiers. The three star review did not leave a narrative, so you'll have to read Shortstack and see for yourself. I removed identifiers to protect the reviewers from NSA scrutiny. They haven't stopped laughing about Shortstack over at the FBI and NSA. CIA is still mums-the-word about it. The New York Times hasn't said a word either, but I'm watching the Book Review Section every weekend.

Amazon Reviews

5 stars out of 5
Forget Shades of Grey - Here's a Rainbow of Laughs,
September 8, 2013
Timothy Hurley has tasted the rainbow and caught Humor

Spectrum Disorder. This offbeat (in a good way) anthology

includes humorous stories in a variety of styles: punchy twists
to classic mythology and fairy tales; plays on pop culture;
and even Medicare references for Baby Boomers. But
Hurley saves the real surprise, and the real craftsmanship of
his talent, for funny but thoughtful stories such as Lost Ring and
Coming to New York, which are at least semi-autobiographical
glimpses into Hurley's life as a devoted husband
transplanted from the Left Coast to Downtown Manhattan USA.
Each story has its own momentum, written to not only amuse,
but to draw readers in close for a huddle. I had no idea what
to expect from one story to the next; for example, Hurley moves
rapid-fire from a recollection of a recent online run-in with
an attorney (Memo to Hell) to a police detective story with an
unlikely suspect (The Strange Case of The Absorbing
Story) to an "ancient" inspirational poem translated from the
Dutch (Deteriroata Too):
"And despite impending environmental collapse.
There is always a big future in crisis management."
My absolute two favorite stories in this book are re-tellings of
the Creation story (Genesis) and one set shortly thereafter
(Thanksgiving in Eden, Adam's Memoir). Expect the
unexpected - except for laughing: you may as well plan on
laughing. Shortstack is authentically funny.

4.0 out of 5 stars
Fun, light read, September 5, 2013
Amusing collection of short stories and personal essays.
Starts out with modern retellings of old fairy tales and myths.
Very inventive twists on familiar stories. I know a little of
Timothy Hurley's life (very little) and was amused to find some
tie-ins between his life and the stories. Highly readable and very
quick -- I read the entire collection in 2 days. Stories are all
pretty short, which makes it a good collection to pick up and
put down when you have a few minutes to fill and don't want
to delve into a longer read.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Funny, yet inspiring, September 4, 2013
I really enjoyed this hilarious collection of anecdotes!
Infusing a touch of the human spirit into the unpredictable
merriment of everyday life, Dr. Hurley manages to make you
laugh out loud and yet stop and ponder life at the same time.
In between giggles, I was able to glimpse a sensitive man who
loves his wife and doesn't forget to stop and smell the roses,
while expertly weaving tales that bring a smile to the lips of
those fortunate enough to read his work.
Kudos to Dr. Hurley!

 4.0 out of 5 stars
Great book of short storie, August 31, 2013
I bought the kindle version to read while traveling on
vacation. I found this author on Google plus. I thoroughly
enjoyed his book and it made the first half of my trip go fast!
Thank,thank you!

4.0 out of 5 stars
How can I say thanks?, August 29, 2013
A lot of odd, but some inspiring stories. This one made me
think. Dr. Hurley, don't give up on writing. A nice but odd book.
Very creative.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Funny, twisted and fantastic, August 13, 2013
Warning: This book is hazardous to your health. You could
laugh until your sides split. Medical research has shown that
laughing is good for your health because it relieves stress.
Shortstack is a collection of short stories by Timothy Hurley
that could make even the most stoic of us emit a chuckle or
two. His stories are hilarious and kind of skewed. From the first
story, "Hansel and Gretyl: Boomer Fairy Tale" through one story
after another the laughs keep coming. I particularly like "The
Grumpy Old Men's Club." It is a book to read after a bad day.
It will make you giggle and lift your spirits.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Like a Bolt from the Blue, August 9, 2013
This is the third review total on Timothy Hurley's "Shortstack".
I want you to forget the first two and listen to what I'm about to
tell you. If you're about to pass this book up without buying it,
stop. Read this, and then buy the book.
When I walked into this arrangement, I offered Tim a
review in exchange for a review copy of Shortstack. I set off to
read the book, prompted by the cover to expect a few humorous
if badly-edited anecdotes about his life and career as a
physician: the sort of personal recollections you overhear at
the pub, or around the dinner table over a game of cards. If the
cover has changed by the time you read this, it was a picture of
Hurley himself - a high-definition close-up of his face at about
ten inches from the viewer, pores, teeth, whiskers and all,
contorted into the sort of startlingly manic grin that usually
precedes the climax of a slasher flick. I assumed (very, very
wrongly) it couldn't be too moving of a read if he didn't respect
his own work enough to put a real cover on it. But then I'm
a cover artist that has an actual, literal problem with looking
people in the face, so I might be biased. At any rate, I shot
myself in the foot. I probably still am.
What I got when I cracked the book open was a fractured
fairy tale featuring an aging Hansel and Gretel. "Okay," I
thought, "This is different. Let's see where this rabbit-hole
goes." Sparsely-detailed and quickly-paced, the first three
stories read like puppet shows, floating names in a void,
Punches and Judies performing actions on a stage, and it
was only after I'd read them that I realized how ingeniously
Timothy had intentionally written it in an austere fashion to
direct one's attention to the characters themselves and their
situations on a fundamental (and perhaps layered) level.
Outside of the invariably laugh-inducing dialogue, what I
thought I had been reading turned out to be parables almost
Zen koan-like in simplicity and insight. That came after I got
to the end of the third story and asked myself what the hell I
was reading. Then I turned the page and began reading
the fourth story, "Lost Ring", and was ambushed by such an
elemental surprise that I actually checked to see if I was
still reading the "Shortstack" ebook file. Somewhere between
story 3 and story 4, Timothy drops the kid gloves and starts
really pouring on the talent pieced together from a life spent
reading pre-modern American greats like O. Henry,
Hemingway, and Poe. One passage in particular pulled a
violin bow across my heartstrings with such sudden poignancy
that I was temporarily stricken and had to re-read it several
What he doesn't realize (and that I had to tell him) is that
his dialogue also mops the floor with contemporary writers like
Stephen King--Tim's talent at banter and the social
intricacies of Americana life and cantankerous retirees easily
shoves King out of the small-town throne and takes his spot.
Mr. Hurley transforms a harrowing drive across New York
with a retired couple into a swerving-screeching car scene
worthy of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, complete with smart-ass
navigator and white-knuckle driver. Where Tim really shines,
however, is when he steps into his point-of-view character's
head and starts pulling out the thread of inner consciousness,
unraveling a train of thought like the knit of a warm wool
sweater. He brings the very mind of every character to life with
agile turns of phrase and a chameleon sensibility that
completely goes against every preconceived notion I gleaned
from the slapdash cover. One character is a weary, spiteful
city-dwelling writer; another is a soldier of marriage gently
ground to a nub by his eternal commitment to an aging, nagging
spouse; yet another is an eager, worldly novelist willing to
believe in a magic fish; and then somehow Timothy pours the
reader into the mind of a child for a romp with a new pet and
does it so well that every mental image seems to take place
from a vantage point three and a half feet off the ground. This
book belongs in a high school literature class with "The Devil
and Daniel Webster" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". There should
be irritated children writing reports on it and looking at the clock.
Ignore the cover. Read the parables, don't let the Amazon
sample discourage you. I'm not even going to say things like
'it's worth the money'. "Shortstack" belongs in your Kindle as
much as the public-domain classics that came preloaded on the
device when you bought it.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Yummy Melange of Funny and Intelligent Morsels,
August 7, 2013
Timothy Hurley is a funny man. Yes, he is a retired physician
with an intriguing background but his second act as an author
can heal us as well with humor and insights. Shortstack is a
book filled with amusing personal adventures, reconstructed
hysterical fairy tales and a plateful of delicious stories even
the intellectuals among us (as in the Icarus chapter) will
appreciate. But laughter is the main theme here so if you
want to have a good the book pronto!

4.0 out of 5 stars
Just the right amount of corn syrup, July 23, 2013
What can you say about a fellow who writes funny stories
except that his stuff, is, well, very, very funny? Starting at
the end, where every good story ought to start, of course, I
can say this. It's obvious that Mr. Hurley missed his calling.
He spent years wandering hospital halls, curing the halt and
the lame, banishing disease, dispensing mere life-saving
medicinals when he should have been dispensing life-affirming
laughter. It's notable that he describes himself as a writer first,
physician second. Doctor amuse thyself? The Hanzel & Gretyl
tale may never have been twisted around in such a way, with
evil relatives conspiring to banish the two oldsters to the mall,
and not the familiar one either, but the one from which they'll
not be able to return. Like all decent fairy tales this one does,
alas, end (somewhat) happily. Icarus & Daedalus, likewise
have not been addressed in such a way, a kind of Star
Trek meets I & D, meets Theseus, Yoda, Captain Kirk &
Scottie, meets Aphrodite, while they all mind their Pi's & Chi's.
Holy sunspots, Batman! Inside this short stack of stories Hurley
gives readers such notable, and notably outrageous characters
as Seldom Seen Slim, the cowboy who knows his Ice Cream
and its magical powers, an older couple caught without a
cherished ring, another headed to Lincoln Center-- with tickets,
yet another immersed in the traffic maze of the Big Apple
where it's obvious the wife is the preferred driver. "Do not
take the Triborough Bridge!" Other Hurley denizens volunteer
spouses for church functions, offer their hansom cab to
Santa when global warming melts the snow. Visit talking
catfish in an Iowa lake. Read how `Uncle Bill' tried to convince
children that a goat is a unicorn `with two horns, double
magic.' Grumpy Old Men compete for title of Sonoma County
Pain in the Ass, every waitstaff's worst nightmare. We even
get a peek at Adam's memoir. Pizza in Eden? Who knew?
Shortstack is funny stuff. However, it does, once or twice for
this reader, miss a beat. I thought the `Strange Case' yarn
needed more...something, not sure what. Tension? Humor?
Maybe to be condensed? Hurley's best tales are his shorter
ones, less is indeed more here. Another example, `Thanksgiving
in Eden.' Too involved to be engaging? I hasten to add that
these two stories are merely funny. That tells you a bit about
the rest. Read Genesis without laugh-tears, I dare you. It
should tell readers something that one of Hurley's favorite
writers is David Sedaris. The appropriately labeled MSH author,
Master of Self-Deprecation Humor has blazed a trail for the rest
of us who try such things, and if reading 38.85 pages of Sedaris
per day leaves us gasping, the mystery cure may be yet more
Sedaris. Of such conundrums are writers made. Shortstack
also refers to a serving of pancakes, of course. Few of Hurley's
stories fall flat; most of them are served sweet, with just the
right amount of corn syrup. Here's hoping Mr. Hurley can avoid
PPD, Post Publication Depression. If he contracts a case of it,
I know just the physician for him.

Goodreads Reviews

rated it 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this hilarious collection of anecdotes!
Infusing a touch of the human spirit into the unpredictable
merriment of everyday life, Dr. Hurley manages to make you
laugh out loud and yet stop and ponder life atthe same time.
In between giggles, I was able to glimpse a sensitive man who
loves his wife and doesn't forget to stop and smell the roses,
while expertly weaving tales that bring a smile to the lips of
those fortunate enough to read his work. Kudos to Dr. Hurley!

rated it 3 of 5 stars. No narrative.

That's it so far. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read
Shortack and to the reviewers who took the trouble to writewhat they thought of it. I really appreciate both. You are awesome.


  1. Congratulations. These reviews are marvelous.

  2. Wow Timothy, congratulations. That Bolt from the Blue guy should be your agent! Awesome. My hat's off sir, but the rest stays. :)